FC Dallas heads west this afternoon to Arizona for their final week of preseason play. They have two big friendlies against MLS competition (along with one reserve game) as they look to finalize their prep work for the 2018.
As the team heads to Tucson, our staff looks at which player needs to have the biggest performance over the next few days.
Etan Cohn: Roland Lamah
With Mosquera and Atuahene being potential candidates to take Lamah’s starting position outright, Lamah is going to need to show up to earn his place on the roster. Younger players like Pomykal, Twumasi, and Reid could eat up some minutes at his position, too, if Lamah isn’t performing for the team.
Nathan Hill - Harold Mosquera
More than anyone else with his (potential) big transfer fee and salary, Mosquera is going to need to hit the ground running as FC Dallas takes it to the desert. What muddles things for me is FCD playing around with a 3-5-2, which makes we wonder where Mosquera might fit in that lineup. If he is a new DP, surely the plan can’t be to bring him off the bench? In FCD’s typical “diamond” however, will he slot in on the left wing, overtaking Lamah, Paxton, and others? I think Arizona is an opportunity for him to begin to gel with the team and show what he is going to bring this deep squad.
Ben Lyon: Paxton Pomykal
Prior to the Superdraft, Paxton looked like a shoe-in to play big, big minutes this year. Then FC Dallas added two very pacey wingers in the 1st round, Francis Authene and Ema Trumasi. Then, in the last 2 friendlies, FC Dallas spent extended time in a 3-5-2. Suddenly, in the addition to the 2 number #1 picks, Paxton’s competition for time on the wing consists of 10 of his teammates (Barrios, Tesho, Lamah, Reynolds, Ferreira, Hollingshead, Cannon, Nedyalkov, and the draftees). And then on Monday, FCD splashed the cash for Mosquera bringing the total number of wing options not named Paxton to 11.
The good news is that Paxton appears better suited to the central playmaker role for the team, and even if Mauro Diaz manages 30ish games across all competitions, that should leave over 1000 minutes for Pomykal to play this year. The bad news is that Mosquera, in addition to having utility as a winger and a 2nd striker, is more than capable to cover minutes for Diaz when he tires or is rested. Paxton absolutely needs to show well in Arizona, or there’s a chance he could lose minutues to Haróld in the middle of the park. A good showing this week in the middle against MLS teams should give Pareja confidence to give Paxton first crack as Mauro’s understudy. Less than that will raise questions going into CCL and First Kick.
Jose Carmona - Roland Lamah
I have to agree with Etan, but I'll take it a step further. Roland Lamah needs to impress, because his spot on the roster could depend on it.
Roland makes far too much to be a spot starter. He needs to make himself indispensable, cause there are cheaper, younger options on the bench. There's also the possibility that FCD may try and trade, or even outright release Lamah, in which case, he needs to showcase his talents for other teams in Arizona.
Jeff Loftin - Paxton Pomykal
Going to agree with Ben here and say that Paxton needs a big showing in Arizona. I think that he has a big opportunity this season and his versatility should help him. The ability to play out wide or through the middle should allow Pareja the ability to play him all over the field.
Competition is fierce, and with draft picks and Mosquera now in the mix there is an immense amount of pressure for Paxton to play and compete early on this season. Minutes could be hard to come by, but I am hopeful that the squad is headed for lots of rotation so that the midseason slump does not happen again. Time will tell, but I see this as a make or break season for Mr. Pomykal.
Preston Wetherington - Harold Mosquera
I have to agree with Nathan, Mosquera has everything to gain in Arizona. Being the big money signing this year, there is a significant weight on his shoulders. Depending on whether Pareja will institute a 3-5-2 or a 4-2-3-1, he will be playing in that left flank, or as the number 10 if Diaz is not playing. He will need to start gelling with his South American attacking counterparts immediately to form some chemistry only a couple of weeks before the season kicks off, Arizona will be the best opportunity for him.
Andrew Gentry - Cristian Colman
While I agree with the Roland Lamah selections of Etan and Jose, I think the young DP of last off-season probably has the most on the line. If Colman can’t find good form early, his opportunities to play will be taken by one of the 10+ other attacking wingers/midfielders on the roster by either a formation change or Pareja converting someone else to do the job. He never found a rhythm with last year’s squad, so if he can’t find one early on this off-season or click with any of the newcomers, it could/should be the end of his time here.
Jack Rouse - Jacori Hayes
If Jacori is going to work his way into first team minutes this season, he’s not only going to have to beat out Victor Ulloa, but also fellow Wake Forest product, Brandon Servania. I love the energy that Hayes brings to the middle of the pitch, but he has stiff competition for minutes this year. Going into the off-season it seemed a foregone conclusion that at least Acosta would be gone and possibly Gruezo as well, but Dallas has only strengthened its already impressive central midfield. Hayes must show that he can provide more energy than Ulloa and be more mature than Servania. Hayes’ greatest asset is his youthful exuberance on the pitch, but he must grow into a more refined player. When he featured last year he was raw, but with his first year under his belt he should display maturity that a rookie like Servania can’t. Arizona gives Hayes the opportunity to impress, and he’s going to have to make the most of it if he wants to find minutes in a crowded midfield (and not get shipped off to OKC).